Growing up in the Deep South, there was a lot I wasn’t taught about the Southwest.
found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert.
[The cactus is found] in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. A few stray plants can also be found in southeast California.
(Thanks to the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum [https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Saguaro%20Cactus.php] for the info.)
I grew up thinking all cacti (I did know the plural of cactus was not cactuses) were pretty much that same and all cacti grew in all deserts. WRONG!
Nor did I know much about the roadrunner. Oh sure, I saw the cartoon Road Runner on Saturday mornings, but I didn’t necessarily believe a roadrunner was a real creature. I saw Bugs Bunny too, but I knew rabbits couldn’t talk (much less sing opera), so while I might believe there was a bird called a roadrunner out in the big world, I was pretty sure it was nothing like the one on television.
I was right about that.
I didn’t see a real live roadrunner until I was an adult. I was so excited when it ran across the road, I bounced up and down in my seat and squealed.
Of course, the cartoon Road Runner looks a lot different from a real, live roadrunner. Real roadrunners are mostly brown, while the cartoon Road Runner is decked out in shades of blue. The cartoon Road Runner is much taller than a real roadrunner, and the decorative feather flop on the top of the cartoon’s head is much bigger than anything a real roadrunner has going on.
But still, when I saw the real roadrunner hurrying across the highway, I knew exactly what it was.
A bird born to run, the Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human, kill a rattlesnake, and thrive in the harsh landscapes of the Desert Southwest. Roadrunners reach two feet from sturdy bill to white tail tip, with a bushy blue-black crest and mottled plumage that blends well with dusty shrubs. As they run, they hold their lean frames nearly parallel to the ground and rudder with their long tails. They have recently extended their range eastward into Missouri and Louisiana.
WHAT?!?!?!? Roadrunners in Missouri and Louisiana? THAT is exciting, but how is a desert bird going to adapt to all the humidity?
Not too long ago, I woke up with the sun. It had been hot out, and there weren’t many other people around, so I hadn’t hung my side curtain when I went to bed. The lack of curtain helped with airflow, but when the sun rose at 5:45, there was a lot of light in my face.
I was looking at Facebook on my phone and hadn’t even put my glasses on when I heard a thump on the van. I looked up and saw…something…standing on my side mirror. My vision is very poor, and I can’t see much past the end of my nose without my specs. (Yeah, I’d been holding the phone close to my nose.) I suspected it was a bird on the mirror, but I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was some kind of super jumping desert squirrel that had leapt up there.
I reached out for my glasses, thinking my movement would scare of the critter. Nope. The critter didn’t go anywhere. I got the spectacles on my face and saw a roadrunner on my mirror. A big roadrunner. A roadrunner with a tail as long as (maybe longer than) its whole body. It turned around a few times on the mirror, so I got a good look at it from all angles. Then it flew up to the roof of my van, where I heard it thump a couple of times as it walked around. When all was silent, I knew the bird had flown away.
If I’d been in a cartoon, an anvil or a safe would have crushed my van. Thank goodness I’m living in the real world.
Since I didn’t get a photo of the roadrunner, I’ll post one of a saguaro in bloom. I took the two photos of the saguaros. I did not take the two photos of the roadrunners. The photo of the real bird comes from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU_7nZbII6o. The photo of the cartoon Road Runner comes from http://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/battles-7/sonic-vs-roadrunner-1709011/.